Future of the Environment

Air pollution, droughts and rains are washing away ancient Greek monuments

A view of the Parthenon temple and the walls of the Acropolis hill are pictured in Athens, Greece, June 24, 2019. Picture taken June 24, 2019. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis - RC1504F895A0

The Parthenon temple and the walls of the Acropolis hill are pictured undergoing repairs, in Athens. Image: REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

Idyli Tsakiri
Share:
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Future of the Environment?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Future of the Environment is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Future of the Environment

Climate change is threatening ancient Greek monuments, among them the Acropolis, one of the most-visited archaeological sites in the world, scientists said.

Air pollution and acid rain are eroding marbles, while extreme weather phenomena such as droughts or torrential rains have led ancient walls and temples to develop structural problems.

Even though the Acropolis hill, where the Parthenon stands, is probably Greece's best preserved archaeological site, there are signs that climate change has been increasingly affecting the monuments that stand on the hill.

"The walls of the (ancient) city have more erosion than in the past," Maria Vlazaki, General Secretary in the Greek Culture Ministry, told Reuters.

The temple of the Parthenon on the rock of the Acropolis, located in the heart of Athens, dates back to the classical period of antiquity - the 5th century BC.

For decades there have been efforts to preserve and protect the Acropolis and its monuments, an operation that has been sped up since the mid 1970s. But the country has hundreds if not thousands of exposed archaeological sites.

Have you read?

"Every year, we have more cases... We give more money, unexpected money to protect the walls of the (ancient) cities that had no problems before, to protect the coastal area," Vlazaki said.

The wider Athens area has been hit hard by deadly floods and forest fires over the last decade. A 2007 forest fire in the Peloponnese peninsula threatened to destroy the temples and stadiums of ancient Olympia, birthplace of the Olympic Games.

Christos Zerefos, a professor in the Academy of Athens said extreme weather events had become more frequent and the sudden swings from periods of flooding to drought were destabilising the monuments.

Speaking on the sidelines of a conference on climate change and cultural heritage, Zerefos told Reuters Greece needed better shelter for its monuments, and a monitoring system that would help provide extra protection in case of extreme weather.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Future of the EnvironmentClimate ChangeCities and Urbanization
Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

This explorer and conservationist is training citizen scientists to save the planet

Rebecca Geldard

February 27, 2024

1:41

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum